April 10, 2015

Guest Post - Cycling Despite Diabetes: Once a Dream, Now a Reality

By: Alexandra C. Infanzon

Diabetes. To some, it is a lifestyle cause and effect. To others, it defines why someone would wake up early every morning and check their blood sugar, eat at constant time intervals while counting their nutrient ratios and ensuring their food is proportional, exercise daily, maintain healthy drinking-water habits, and travel to the nearest pharmacy every month to pick up his or her prescriptions. My definition of diabetes is the latter. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 12, while I was in sixth grade. That summer I went to a diabetes camp where I learned how to take insulin shots and prick my fingers to check my blood sugar 5 times a day from doctors, nurses, nutritionists, and personal trainers. Fast forward to present day, thirteen years later, I volunteer for the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and I ride in the Tour de Cure because I want to find a cure to Stop Diabetes so future generations can live without developing it. I want to make diabetes a disease of the past.

Three years ago, while I was studying for my Master’s in Public Health, at George Washington University, I approached the ADA office in Washington, DC to see if I could get involved with their Tour de Cure event. A few interviews later, I landed the Team Red Captain position for the Inaugural Tour de Cure event at the nation’s capital. I was thrilled because this was my opportunity to kick diabetes in the butt! I could raise funds for research, advocacy, and education, but also be at the grassroots level where I could engage with people who live with the same fear of consequences if their blood sugar is too high or too low as I do. It is really unpredictable, but speaking with others and sharing experiences taught me that I am not alone and I can overcome the challenges.

My experiences riding in several Tours have been phenomenal. My first year, I participated in the Northern Virginia Tour de Cure to get some experience as a volunteer helping get people registered during the morning hours, while, in my second year I rode for the first time in the DC Tour de Cure. I rode 14 miles with my mother, age 51, around the closed-roads in the city. We were the very last ones to reach the finish line. I loved every second of it.

This year will be my third year as Team Red Captain, participating in Tour in a third state. In this moment I am registered to ride for the Charlotte Tour de Cure to get another ride’s perspective in May 3. And two weeks later I will ride in NC Tour de Cure in Cary. I can’t wait to find out what these rides will teach me and the memories I will build that will fuel my passion for riding.

I have now started a chain reaction in North Carolina. If you would like to participate on Team Red NC, register here: http://main.diabetes.org/site/TR/TourdeCure/TourAdmin?team_id=691922&pg=team&fr_id=10172 and take the ride of your life!